(City of Victoria/Twitter)

Over 450 youth bus passes have been picked up at Victoria city hall this week.

The City of Victoria has a total of 7,200 free monthly youth transit passes available to Victoria residents aged 12-18 for the month of December.

These passes became available at city hall for the first time on Tuesday November 19th, and council invites youth to pick them up between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.

See also: Craigslist ads offering to buy and sell Victoria’s free youth bus passes

By Friday, November 22nd, a total of 457 passes were claimed by young people – or their guardians – who showed identification with proof of age and residency.

“This municipal program is the first of its kind in the province, with a goal to encourage low-carbon, affordable transportation,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement on Tuesday.

“Our goal of providing these free passes is to create lifelong transit riders that will lead to fewer vehicles, less traffic congestion and better health outcomes.”

The transit passes provide unlimited trips each month on BC Transit bus and handyDART services for registered handyDART customers.

Participants who use these passes are required to provide proof of age and residency each month while picking them up, and no replacement passes will be issued for lost or stolen cards.

Students in Victoria aged 12-18 can choose to start using this program at any time.

These passes come at a cost of $729,000, paid for by Sunday street parking fees in downtown Victoria that were implemented in May. They will be made available in this manner until September 2020.

A permanent program to provide free bus passes to youth in Victoria will be devised by city staff in time to be implemented in September next year.

This program could include an annual transit swipe card that is distributed through schools and community hubs.